32 dining room ideas – the best decor, layouts and designs schemes for dining areas

Our inventive ideas for revitalising a casual or formal dining room will make them sing out effortlessly

Dining room ideas with shelving and velvet grey chairs
(Image credit: Future / Alicia Taylor)

Our elegant dining room ideas, decorating solutions and expert advice will inspire you, whether you want to design a space for formal entertaining or create a distinct zone within an open-plan layout.

Everyone knows the best conversations happen over a meal, whether it is with family, a partner, or friends, so having somewhere to sit and eat is an important element to consider when designing your home.

These dining rooms have been designed with both practicality and looks in mind – comfortable and welcoming, they will cater to both dinner parties and every day dining for the family.

Dining room ideas

Plan and decorate a curated dining room and small dining room that's as beautiful to look at as it is relaxing to eat in. 

1. Introduce a splash of color into a country dining room for a touch of modernity

Dining room ideas - natural dining room scheme with bright red chair

Future / Emma Lee / Sally Denning

(Image credit: Future / Emma Lee / Sally Denning)

If the neutral dining room ideas you have been browsing have lacked a spark, add a sprinkling of bright primary colors and create a statement with a single piece in a vivid hue. 

Here, a brightly painted chair delivers drama and works as a wonderful focal point. The block of color in the yellow artwork and glossy finish of the red chair bring an unexpected extra dimension and vibrance to the calm, natural, country feel of this relaxed dining space. 

2. Add checkerboard flooring for a smart monochrome look 

Dining room ideas - Monochrome dining scheme with checkerboard flooring

Future / Emma Lee / Sally Denning

(Image credit: Future / Emma Lee / Sally Denning)

A chic, black and white checkerboard flooring adds impact to a calm, neutral scheme. The monochrome palette combined with warm wooden furniture creates an inviting dining room. 

Not only do classic black and white floor tiles add an effortlessly sophisticated feel to a room, but these vinyl tiles are a practical and fuss free option for a much used family space. This flooring choice has enduring appeal and will never go out of style. 

3. Create a sense of occasion with dramatic furnishings

Dining room ideas with wall mural and wooden table and chairs

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

Just two well-chosen elements – the mural and lighting fitting – give this dining room huge impact. The monotone color scheme is enlivened – and made more glamorous – with the touches of gold, which also warm the otherwise cool space. Upholstered chairs add a luxurious feeling of comfort, which invites diners to linger, while the round table enhances sociability.

4. Plan a coordinated look for an open-plan dining room

Dining room with colorful chairs and wooden table

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

Large open plan rooms have their pluses and minuses; it’s fantastic having plenty of space for that much-desired airy, open feel, however it can be a struggle making everything work together harmoniously. The easiest way to achieve a coordinated look is to keep the colors similar throughout – pick one or two key colors and make sure they appear in both ends of the room.

5. Add a round table for a sociable dining room

Dining room with round table and pendant light

(Image credit: Future / Simon Bevan)

Create a sociable and relaxing atmosphere in your dining room with a circular table; it’s less formal, plus you can squeeze in extra chairs and stools if need be. And when you’re finished entertaining? You can tuck the table away in a corner – making it the perfect choice for a small dining room.

6. Make room for elegant, comfortable dining in a kitchen

Small dining room ideas with corner table and colorful chairs

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

Even very small spaces can often accommodate an open-plan dining room. In a compact kitchen, consider using banquette seating, fitted into a corner or even on one side of an island, to create a cozy dining spot.

7. Build a dining area into a bay window to maximize space

Dining room ideas with window seat and armless chairs

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

In living areas, try using the space creatively: window seating can be combined with a table for impromptu dining, while extendable tables can provide multi-functional space.

8. Make the most of a narrow space

Dining room ideas with narrow table in hall

(Image credit: Future / Catherine Gratwick)

Hallways and studies can also work well as dining areas. Consider a narrow table in a large hall, while a study or book-filled library with a table at its centre can create atmospheric dining options.

9. Pick a moody shade for evening-only dining rooms

Dining room ideas - Dining room, decorating with grey

(Image credit: Future/Polly Wreford)

If you're looking for dining room ideas for spaces that are really only used in the evening, you can dare to go darker. A room that's lit by candlelight, when painted in a moody shade, will feel so much more intimate and atmosphere than one that's a pale shade. Here, the texture and colors of the rug make the room feel more inviting and warmer – an important factor if you are decorating with a cool tone. 

10. Create a fun feel for a family dining room

Dining room with map on the wall and table

(Image credit: Future / Carolyn Barber)

A decorative oilcloth makes a practical alternative to a traditional fabric tablecloth; this striking world map design has been stapled into place for a neat finish. Add an old school map on the wall to continue the cartographic theme.

11. Pick dining furniture in wood for warmth

Dining room with antique table, chairs and cabinet

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

If you want a dining table but don’t have space for a large traditional style, why not choose a small, round, bistro one? It will be a perfect place to sit and have your morning coffee and croissant, as well as adding a little Parisian chic to a previously unused corner of your dining room.

12. Be bold with your decor

Dining room ideas - Dining room - Scale in interior design

(Image credit: Rapture & Wright)

If yours is a separate dining room, it is the perfect opportunity to consider bold dining room color schemes or decorative scheme that might be overwhelming in a living space you use all the time. A stand-out wallpaper will create an exuberant space, as will a boldly painted piece of furniture – or a beautiful, curvaceous piece, such as the dining table in this beautiful room by Rapture & Wright at The Fabric Collective.

13. Create a window seat banquette for a relaxed look

Dining room with window seat and colored glassware

(Image credit: Future / Simon Bevan)

Make the most of every nook, and the architectural features of your home, by utilising a window seat as dining seating. The built-in bench on one side of the table will save space, as they are flush with the wall. To avoid the set-up looking too unbalanced, choose non-bulky folding chairs for the side opposite the window.

14. Hang a feature light over the dining table

Dining room ideas with wooden table and patterned chairs

(Image credit: Future / Jody Stewart)

It is worth devising lighting schemes early on, allowing for functional down lighters, and more decorative fittings. An oversized light suspended above a dining table helps to delineate the space. Ask your electrician to wire zones on different circuits so you can adjust the mood. Wherever possible, try to accentuate natural light. If you have a double-height space or, a single-storey extension, consider installing skylights or a roof lantern.

15. Play with scale

Dining room ideas - Dining room - Scale in interior design

(Image credit: Future/Chris Everard)

A dining room is a good space to play with scale in interior design, particularly when it comes to mixing patterns in a room in different proportions.

'When choosing pattern you also need to take into account scale. Scale is important and can really help pull an idea together, the main thing being to mix the scales from large to small,' says designer Charlotte Gaisford. 'Within the scale idea you also need to think about what type of pattern you want to use.'

16. Ensure light shed on the table is warm

Dining room ideas with farmhouse table and black pendant lights

(Image credit: Future / Jody Stewart)

There’s nothing like a large table to create a warm, friendly and often lively atmosphere in the kitchen. However, layout will be dictated to some extent by the shape and footprint of your dining room and may mean a separate table and chairs aren’t workable. Instead a split-level peninsular may suit the space and still achieve the social focal point you have in mind. Weigh up a variety of options: a full table, breakfast bar or a small perch point on the end of a run of cabinets. The dining element could even be a full feature area, stretching along the back of an island.

17. Introduce color and pattern with fabric

Dining room ideas with red chairs and teal walls

(Image credit: Future / Simon Bevan)

'Chairs, rugs and window treatments are a great way to introduce color and character to a dining room, so pops of color and a mix of materials will add some personality to the interior,' says Head of Retail & Commercial Design at Life Kitchens, Graeme Smith.

18. Frame the dining table with artwork

Dining room with traditional chairs, tables and colorful art

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

‘The dining room has become the social hub of the home,' explains Interior Designer, Emma Sims Hilditch. 'Opt for natural tones such as soft browns, gentle greys and creamy nudes which serve as a beautiful base for interchangeable soft furnishings. Try adding bright patterned cushions to a dining room chair, or colorful artwork to a bare wall.'

19. Set a stylish table

Dining room with large round table and wood floor

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

When choosing a centrepiece, pick something that’s either lower than or well above the eyeline, as visual communication is essential at dinner parties. ‘Almost anything can work, from floral arrangements to existing ornaments, but ensure there’s a common theme, such as animals or birds.’ advises Clifford Williams, Display Manager at Thomas Goode. ‘Keep the focus on the table with candlesticks, votives and low-level background lighting.’

See more: Tablescaping – learn the art of laying a table

20. Create the right ambience in your dining room

Grey dining room with small round table

(Image credit: Future / Jan Baldwin)

‘If you’re using also using the dining room as a work space, we’d recommend you install recessed dowlighters for brightness,’ says Chris Jordan, Managing Director at Christoper Wray Lighting. ‘Directional downlighter are best for diverting the light to where it is needed most.’ For a flexible, layered effect put all your lighting on dimmers and separate circuits.

21. Bring texture to the dining room with natural materials

Dining room with wooden chairs, table and patterned rug

(Image credit: Future / Michael Sinclair)

A wood-rich dining room creates a warm, welcoming atmosphere, as we've already mentioned above. However, you can max out this effect by not just choosing wooden flooring and furniture, but by choosing wooden panelling ideas for walls, too. 

For anyone look for modern dining room ideas, the fluted panelling style above is the perfect way to introduce wood in a contemporary way, with the vertical lines creating a neat visual trick, too, of making the room's ceiling look higher. 

22. Consider dining room storage

Traditional dining room ideas with wooden furniture and white walls

(Image credit: Future / Ngoc Minh Ngo)

If your dining room is on the bijou side, go for unity when selecting storage. A mishmash of furniture styles will create discord and, as the space will probably be used for entertaining, it should be as calm and inviting as possible. 

Opting for built-in pieces and making the most of recesses are good ways to achieve a clutter-free look. ‘You could have open shelves to display ornate items and practical custom-built drawers for cutlery and tableware,’ says Alan Borra, Designer at Neville Johnson.

23. Retain an open-plan feel

Dining room with grey chairs, wooden table, white walls and shelving

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

‘Think about what you will use the dining room for,’ says Pam Cox, owner of Ham Interiors. ‘If it will be almost entirely dedicated to dining, it’s crucial to leave enough room between the seating and other furniture to allow people to get to and from the table with ease. 

'Where space is limited, you may have to sacrifice storage to retain an open feel. Attempting to squeeze in too much could detract from the overall look and function of the space, so consider what is really necessary.’

24. Pick traditional lighting and furniture to add character

White dining room with antique dining chairs and wooden flooring

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

‘Bear in mind that people tend to be seated in a dining room so the lighting must be at eye level be effective,’ says Lucy Martin, Design Director at John Cullen. ‘Wall lights, picture lights and lamps will help to achieve a soft, intermediate intensity. Lighting should also be sufficiently bright for guests to see and to enjoy the food and conversation, so make it adjustable via dimmers.’ 

Opt for a pendant light, too, as a dining room looks best with a focal point over the table. It needs to be carefully positioned; too high and the light won’t illuminate the table, too low and you could obstruct the views of your guests.

25. Pick warm colors for a welcoming dining room

Dining room ideas - rusty colored room

(Image credit: John Lewis)

Dining room colors should be selected on two factors: the effect you want to create on diners and the time of day you tend to use the room. So, while a dining space within an open-plan kitchen diner or a dining room that's used by the family morning, noon and night will be best in a pale, light-reflecting color, one that's used in the evenings only and that should glow with warm, inviting light, is often best decorated in a warm shade.

We love this dining room idea: the room complements the space it leads off from and its rust-colored walls are both on trend and welcoming.

26. Choose pale colors for a breakfast dining room

White dining room with window seat and wooden table

(Image credit: Future / Simon Bevan)

If you are searching for dining room ideas for a space you will mainly use for breakfast or lunch, picking fresh, pale colors will make it an inspiring space to be. To keep the room light, pick furniture that's delicate, streamlined and even translucent – this is particularly important if you are looking for small dining room ideas.

27. Frame the dining table with an accent wall

Dining room ideas - Fromental wallcoverings

(Image credit: Future/Jon Day)

Accent wall ideas are really useful in dining rooms if you can use them on the wall opposite the door to the space to frame the dining table in a dramatic way. 

In this dining room, styled for a Homes & Gardens decorating shoot by Alyce Taylor, Fromental’s Braque wallpaper is layered with painted chairs to create an intricately intriguing space.

Charu Gandhi, Founder and Director of UK-based interior design studio Elicyon, has used Fromental designs in her projects. She says: ‘Wallpaper can bring the perfect depth and materiality to space, both when the room is bijoux and when it has scale. Start by what you want the wallpaper to celebrate or tackle, then the tone and scale, and on to the pattern and detail.'

28. Create a formal dining room with symmetry

Dining room ideas - dining room

(Image credit: Future/Michael Sinclair)

Symmetry in interior design is used to create balance, calm and neatness. If you are creating a dining room that you want to feel formal, you can use this interior design device to make your room elegant and smart. 

‘Symmetry provides balance within a room and it often starts from the focal point, whether that be a fireplace in the sitting room or the headboard in a bedroom,' says Liv Wallers from British design studio, Yellow London. 'It can be used right down to the smaller details of the room, cushions on the sofa to lamps on a dresser.’

Here, the starting point is the window, with the rug and dining table using it as a central point.

29. Embrace cottagecore for a relaxed dining room 

Country dining room ideas with orange tablecloth

(Image credit: Future / David Brittain)

The cottagecore trend is, we predict, an enduringly popular look that's a sophisticated combination of vintage and country styles. It's perfect for a dining room and will work in contemporary spaces just as well as in country cottages or period homes. Ideally, choose colors that are reflective of nature – warmer shades like those in the room above are wonderful for creating a welcoming dining room, especially one that might be north-facing and that receives little natural daylight. 

30. Display your favorite china 

Grey dining room with alcove shelving unit and grey walls

(Image credit: Future / Alexander James)

Displaying china is one way to add interest and color to a dining room, plus of course, it can solve a kitchen storage problem in one hit. Combine the china with other favorite objets, including sculpture, glassware and even books, for a look that's carefully curated.

31. Keep to fresh palette of green and white

Green dining room ideas with wooden table and patterned wallpaper

(Image credit: Future / Emma Lee)

It’s one of nature’s favorite color combinations and this classic pairing looks every bit as good inside. Use fabrics and accessories in a palette of apple, mint and emerald perfectly evoke the distinctive charm of England’s verdant landscape.

32. Carve out a dining area from an underused space

Grey dining room within a kitchen

(Image credit: Future / James Balston)

Not all dining rooms need to be opulent, extravagant spaces. A simple dining area in a large kitchen might be all you need for casual dining. Keep the color palette the same as the rest of the space for a unified, cohesive look. If your space is on the small side, then opt for armless chairs or benches which can be neatly tucked under a table.

How can I decorate my dining room?

'Think carefully about how you intend to use the space,' advises Graeme Smith, Senior Designer at Second Nature and 1909 Kitchens. 'Is the dining area for informal snacks, having a coffee and reading the paper? Or will it be the key meeting point in the home where family congregate for meals or perhaps doubling as a place to catch up on paperwork?'

Invest in the best tableware you can afford, but don’t be seduced by unnecessary pieces; just buy what you need for your style of entertaining. Select dual-purpose items; for example a soup plate can also be used for pasta. Above all, choose what you love and collect slowly. That way, you will enjoy your tableware for life.

'If you want to mix and match tableware, key items such as linen and charger plates should remain constant as you experiment with the color, shape and pattern of china,’ explains Clifford Williams, Display Manager at Thomas Goode. ‘The current trend is for an eclectic mix with a sense of “organised chaos."’

Paint and wallpaper are great ways to give your dining space character and personality. According to Interior Designer Roselind Wilson. 'A good way to create an intimate space for dining is to choose a rich, opulent color palette and use it on the ceiling too.’

What furniture do you put in a dining room?

Be fussy with furniture, especially in a compact dining room. Furniture can be a cumbersome business, especially in small rooms so it pays to arrange and buy items correctly.

One great way to make the most of a smaller space is by using multi-function furniture, like an extendable dining table, folding chairs, or chairs that can be neatly tucked under the table when not in use.

Another important pointer is to place large pieces of furniture against walls so the open space in the middle is not broken up. Scale the furniture to fit the size of the room and don’t block walking pathways – if you can see the floor, the room will look larger. 

A great tip is to choose a dining table and chairs with open arms and exposed legs, both will keep the appearance of a much more open and free space, allowing light to filter under and around the furniture far easier.

In smaller homes, where space is tight, you might consider extending a worktop to create a breakfast bar or introduce a small circular table for informal dining.

How do you light a dining room?

Lighting is an immediate and effective zoning option for a dining room. It’s another tool that segments the different functionality of the space.

'Consider using soft but effective under lighting in the dining room, which allows sufficient light to put the final touches to one's food, but is discreet enough not to dominate,' advises Julie Paul, Head of Interior Design, OKA. 'Try a mixture of striking pendant lights, chic floor lamps and colorful table lights.’